Want the Most From Your Employee Training? Make It More Like High School

By: Michelle Scandurro, Training Consultant

An effective employee training program is vital to the success of any organization. Business and technology needs are constantly changing, which means even your most knowledgeable team members will always have more to learn. Whether you tap internal resources to custom-build a training program, outsource it to a third party, or buy a set of materials off the shelf, you’ll likely encounter a persistent issue: How do you get your employees to care?

Before I came to Resolvit, I spent several years as a high school teacher and principal. What I’ve found is that to get participants fully engaged, the most successful employee training programs rely on the same tactics I used with teenagers. No, I’m not talking about detention, term papers, or final exams; I mean the fundamental qualities of a positive, stimulating learning environment.

Creativityemployee training

For many of us, high school is a time of intense creativity. Often for the first time, we exercise some control over our learning and our input is considered; as a result, we explore. The most engaged employees retain that sense of wonder and exploration within their company’s framework. I’ve found that four simple words can breathe inspiration into an organization: “What do you think?” The key is to truly, and without judgment, listen. Such conversations can change everything.

A Sense of Community

You probably still remember or even keep in touch with your high school friends.  Identifying around a set of shared experiences (e.g., cheering on your football team in the playoffs) galvanizes learning. Set your employees up for success with training systems that rally them for the cause in two important ways:

  1. Group discussions
  2. Gatherings to celebrate each other’s successes

How groups are organized is often less important than the fact that they’re in groups in the first place. Increased collaboration and empathy, even in informal contexts, can help your employees learn better while also generating new ideas for improving processes and increasing business.

A Little Silliness (Every Now and Again)

I once spent an entire school day as principal dressed as a Green Goddess. It was “Salad Dressing Day,” one of our favorite Student Council-sponsored costume days. Every school has its own traditions of deliberate silliness—homecoming week, holiday parties, pep rallies, etc. Those days reinforced our sense of unity and, almost counter-intuitively, our mutual respect. In such an environment, you can relax enough to truly learn.

Training should be fun! Wrap some good-natured competition into it with team or individual games based on what participants have learned. Give out silly prizes. Incorporate funny videos and skits (and even a costume or two) into your culture. Your employees’ creativity, joy, and productivity will blossom.

Looking to bring more excitement to your employee training program? Contact us to start the conversation.


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